Robert “Bob” Elmer Harmison, 99, went to his heavenly home on March 5, 2023. Bob was born on October 11, 1923 in Oneida, Illinois in the very same house where he lived out the next sixty-eight 68 years of his life. He was born to Christina Marie (Williams) and Lloyd William Harmison. He grew up with his two brothers and one sister. Bob had farming in his blood. It was his livelihood, biggest commitment, and passion. He and his brother, Willis, operated as Harmison Farms for 53 years, farming the same farmland as their father.
Bob met his one and only love, Betty Jean Norris (1927-1991), in 1945 marrying on June 24, 1946. He was drafted into the Army Air Corp in Feb 1946 and deployed to the Philippines to serve in World War II the day after he and Betty were wed. He returned safely to continue farming and raise a family. Bob and Betty were blessed with a son (Dennis Lee) in 1950 and a daughter (Julie Lynn) in 1952. Over the years, Bob and his family survived the hard years and celebrated the easier ones (if there are easy years for farmers). He raised hogs, cattle and chickens and milked dairy cows. Harmison Farms managed to amass, grow, and harvest corn and soybeans on local farmland. Throughout his farming career, Bob was a member of the Ontario Township Board, 25 year member of the Oneida Lions Club, ASC Board Member and a lifetime member of the Farm Bureau. He took his family on cross country vacations to visit his in-laws in California over the years, one time in their 1961 Chevy.
Bob was also blessed five times as he added grandchildren to the brood when Doreen Nell, Aaron Lee, Melanie Jean, Molly Jane, and Zachary Robert were born. Bob and Betty were at the core of family reunions, birthdays, and holidays on both sides of the family with their generosity and love. Bob retired from farming in 1990, bought a home, and moved to Galesburg. Sadly, just a few months into retirement, Bob was widowed when Betty passed April 4, 1991.
As a retiree, Bob stayed active—possibly more active than when he was farming. At nearly 70 years old, Bob committed himself to being a devoted friend, father, and grandfather. He would meet friends for breakfast or coffee nearly every day of the week. He was an active and skilled bowler in the local league. He attended and hosted card parties. He always made it a priority to not only know what was happening around Galesburg, but to take pictures of any demolition, new buildings or just road construction in the area. Bob could be seen in either his red and white Chevy truck or one of his immaculately clean cars over the years. Many times, he would refuse to take them out if it was raining or bring his trusty “shammy” to mop up the beads of water before they created spots on his beloved vehicles. Bob was also a staple in many local parades proudly driving his patriotically decorated antique Farmall “Little” B tractor with a red wagon, full of his grandkids and their friends in tow.
As his grandchildren got older, Bob was always present. In fact, many of his grandchildren’s’ friends simply referred to him as “Grandpa Bob.” He toted kids back and forth from school or different events. He loved watching and talking about NASCAR and all other car races with his son and grandkids. He went to any and all sporting events in which his grandchildren participated. He could always be seen and heard in the middle of the stands with his bag of popcorn. Bob followed and loved the Galesburg Silver Streaks’ teams long after his grandkids graduated. He was also an avid Chicago teams’ fan and enjoyed following those teams with his son-in-law Mike—however he swayed to the dark side when the St. Louis Cardinals were winning more than the Chicago Cubs as he got older. Bob traveled across the country for sports competitions, moving to and from colleges, weddings, and vacations with his family. Whether it was a big life event or just letting a grandchild practice throwing a ball at a stuffed monkey on his head (bad idea), Bob was the most supportive and dedicated presence in his family.
Once in his nineties, Bob was again blessed with three great-grandchildren when John Pendergrass Brennan (2014), Brecken Wyatt Attig (2015), and Amelia Carolynn Brennan (2017) were each born. He brought the same joy and love to the new generation of his family. Bob was able to live at his home until he went to assisted living at the age of 96. Bob lived a glorious and well-fulfilled life in his 99 years on earth. There was never a lack of laughter or love when “Grandpa Bob” was around. Bob will be deeply missed as he goes to the Lord and his heavenly family.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents and his wife Betty (Norris). He was also preceded in death by his siblings: Loyd (baby), Ruth Amy (Bruce) Gehring, Willis (Shirley) Harmison, Kenneth (Lois) and, brothers in law and sisters in law Bud (Mary Alice) Norris, Donna (Paul) (Carlson) Leuchtenberg, Richard (Phyllis) Norris, Clyde (Joyce) Norris, and Sandra Madvig.
He is survived by his son Dennis, and his daughter Julie (Mike) Pendergrass, Galesburg, his Grandchildren Doreen Harmison, Galesburg, Aaron (Stacey) Harmison, Hermon, Melanie Attig (Colorado Springs, CO), Molly (Johnny) Brennan (Westmont, IL), and Zachary (Katherine Plackett) Pendergrass (Galesburg), Great-Grandchildren John and Amelia Brennan (Westmont, IL) and Brecken Attig (Colorado Springs, CO). Bob is survived by his sister-in-law Linda Harmison, brothers-in-law Wayne Madvig, and Max (Trisha) Norris, as well as many nieces and nephews including a special nephew Darcy Harmison and a special cousin Judy Meyer.
Visitation will be held from 12:30 PM – 2:30PM, Saturday, March 18, 2023, at Hurd Hendricks Funeral Homes and Crematory, Oneida. Funeral services will follow visitation at 2:30 pm at the funeral home. Rev. Vince Rohn will officiate. Burial will be in Oneida Cemetery with military rites conducted by the Rylander-Milroy American Legion Post #727. Hurd-Hendricks Funeral Homes and Crematory, Oneida have been entrusted with arrangements. Memorial contributions can be made to First United Methodist Church or American Diabetes Assoc. Expressions of sympathy can be left for the family at www.hurd-hendricksfuneralhome.com